Customer Experience Professionals: Things That Drive Us Crazy




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In our previous post, we focused on why we do what we do.  It’s great when we get a successful result in what has become our chosen profession but, as in many others, a number of things can often pop up that will stand between us and our objectives. So here are each of our takes on what frustrates us as CX professionals and how we effectively deal with it.

(BM)       Ben Motteram, Principal, CXpert, Melbourne, AU

(IG)          Ian Golding, CCXP Customer Experience Professional and Consultant, Chester, UK

(KS)          Karl Sharicz, CCXP, Principal, CX Partners, LLC, Boston, USA

BM: One of my major frustrations as a CX professional is seeing companies that understand the benefits of improving their customer relationships yet are paralysed when it comes to implementing CX changes. Remember: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So at some point you need to stop measuring, make a decision based on the analysis of the data you’ve collected, and then act. Chances are, with all the data you’ve got, the decision you make is going to be the right one and the change you make will be successful. If not, fail fast. Reverse the change, learn from your mistake and try something else. Be agile.

A separate but related frustration arises from companies who take that first step and make a change but then don’t commit to it. Examples I’ve seen in the past include a periodic customer survey, a monthly employee service award, and a monthly newsletter that was designed to engage existing customers. All suffered the same fate: they began with gusto but were dead within 6 months even though they had shown “green shoots” of success.

As I’ve said many times before, becoming more customer-centric is an organisational change. Change is hard. It requires commitment from those that are instigating it and support from the organisation. As CX professionals, we need to be dedicated, resilient, persistent, persuasive, and communicative. A career in CX isn’t for everyone and can be as frustrating as buggery (there’s some Aussie slang for you) but for all the reasons we provided in our first post I wouldn’t be doing anything else for quids.


IG: There are many things that have done, and continue to drive me crazy as a customer experience professional. From the very start of my CX journey, I struggled to get senior leaders to take what I was doing seriously. Seen as a believer in the ‘soft and fluffy’, too often I was ‘tolerated’ by others, rather than respected and listened to. As an employee, it was so frustrating to be trying to do the right thing, only to see others less capable and less able getting credit for not doing so!

Now as an independent consultant, it still drives me nuts to see incredibly capable people – in fact some quite brilliant people – going through exactly what I did. I spend so much of time talking to, motivating, reassuring and guiding others – being a customer experience professional can be so lonely at times, that it is vital to ensure that we support each other as much as we can.

It drives me crazy to see businesses being led by people who just do not have a people-centric attitude – towards either customers or colleagues. They exist to do what is right for the organisation they work for and themselves – irrespective of what that means for the customer and for their own employees. Leading others is a tremendous responsibility – in fact, it is one of the ultimate honours a person can have – yet so many ‘so called’ leaders take that responsibility for granted, almost completely disregarding how they make others feel.

I am also not a fan of the leader who thinks they ‘know it all’. It is remarkable how few leaders I have had the opportunity to share knowledge with on the subject of customer experience over the last five years. It is so rare for a senior leader to attend any form of customer experience training. Is that because they know it all already? Or is it because they just do not care? A customer-centric leader never stops learning – very few, if any were ever taught about the now recognised competencies that define the customer experience profession. Those willing to learn are the leaders who are most likely to successfully transform their organisations into sustainably customer-centric ones.

I could keep going on the subject of what drives me mad – I did not realise so many things did! So allow me to share just one more. It drives me crazy when I meet people who want to tell me that customer experience just does not matter – it does not make any difference. Any informed business person today will understand that there is an ever-growing body of publicly available data that proves beyond reasonable doubt the link between improving the customer experience and improving commercial performance. Rather than get frustrated by the ‘non-believers’, my strategy is to provide them with this information – the “facts” as I call it. The non-believer will always exist, but I will never stop better educating and informing those who think that I and my fellow customer experience professionals are justmad, soft and fluffy nutcases!!


KS: It takes more than a single individual or even a small team within any organization to drive the CX agenda forward. I have worked with two distinct organizations as a CX professional — one a multinational B2B for 17 years and for the past year, a local B2C financial services organization. What drove me particularly crazy within the B2B environment was that CX was not totally embraced at the C-level.  It was allowed to exist and function as long as the budget was kept small and the intrusion into operations was kept minimal.  Thus, CX was a nice-to-have activity as long as the metrics indicated that customers were becoming more satisfied, more loyal and more likely to advocate.

Once those numbers started to peak and then decline — which invariably they will for everyone since, unlike financial metrics, there’s a logical limit to any CX metric — this is when the shite hit the fan. Questions abounded and CX was often the scapegoat.  Cries of “You must be asking the wrong customers for feedback”, “I don’t believe your numbers are accurate” and “My customers don’t feel that way” tended to come flying my way.  This had the potential to put me on the defensive but with a great deal of resilience I weathered the storm.  If you are in an organization where the storm is constant and progress has become impossible, then it’s truly time to move on.

Now within the B2C organization that I joined a year ago, there’s a complete and different culture around CX which serves to drive excitement, challenge, and seemingly endless possibilities.  Initially there was a single individual responsible for CX, but since I joined the team, there has been a recent and critical adoption of CX as a business strategy by the leadership team.  Without this kind of endorsement and support, the road would have been long and arduous as I experienced previously.

Any roadblocks we now face are temporary and culturally we work together to get past most of the obstacles.  As is the natural way of organizations, something will undoubtedly serve to drive us crazy in the short-term but once you know that all rowers in the boat are in synch and pulling in the same direction, the flow is much easier.  This is when a CX professional feels the buzz and looks forward to every day and every accomplishment be it big or small.



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